By Jim Slotek, Liam Lacey, Kim Hughes, and Karen Gordon
Is that really the end in sight?
Outlaw King (Gala)
Sat. Sept 15, 9 pm, Elgin Theatre.
Aspiring (perhaps) to bookend Braveheart, the docudrama about 14th century Scottish warrior-cum-king Robert the Bruce lacks just about everything you want in an ostensibly grand-scale story — sweeping narrative arc, powerful acting, credible accents — while heaping on prolonged violence, much against animals, a gratuitous romance, and some of the lamest set pieces imaginable. Director David Mackenzie (the acclaimed Hell or High Water) blows any good will so far amassed on this silly epic with Chris Pine occasionally scanning as Scottish in the lead role, and Billy Howle (On Chesil Beach) consistently shrill and overblown as the stymied Prince of Wales. Also, a Netflix film as the festival opener? Really? KH
Sat. Sept. 15, 12:45 pm, Scotiabank 13.
This is good fun, a comedy about a young businesswoman’s struggles to save her family’s corporation against various sharks and, for many of us who haven’t watched a comedy from Nigeria before, a look at upper-middle-class life in Africa’s most populous country. When her father suffers a non-fatal heart-attack, Adaeze (Genevieve Nnaji, who also directs) finds herself working with her playboy uncle, Godswill (Nikem Owoh) to help save their debt-heavy bus company. Between keeping her impulsive uncle out of jail and avoiding a gauntlet of handsy men, Adaeze finds a way to mix tradition and innovation and provide transportation to the people. The movie is in English, the country’s most widely spoken language. LL
Driven (Special Presentations)
Sat. Sept. 15, 2 pm, Elgin Theatre.
Don’t look to Driven for proof that John DeLorean was arguably one of the most important men in the history of the automobile. Director Nick Hamm’s somewhat salacious film — which isn’t so much based on DeLorean’s life as inspired by a rather dark (and here very embellished) chapter in it — manages to be good fun even while selling its principal subject short. Lee Pace plays DeLorean as a vaguely arch narcissist but the film belongs to Jason Sudeikis as the shady (if hilarious) FBI informant out to save his own skin by ensnaring a financially vulnerable DeLorean in a drug deal that DeLorean beat but which sunk his brilliant career. Hardly a biopic for the ages but enjoyable nevertheless. KH
What you gonna do when the world’s on fire? (Wavelengths)
Sun, Sept. 16, 9:15 am, Scotiabank 8.
This black-and-white documentary from Italian-born filmmaker Roberto Minervini follows three story lines of poor African-Americans in 2017 in New Orleans and Mississippi, struggling with fear and trauma, Cinematographer Diego Romero Suarez-Llanos’s intimate, carefully composed handheld camera work makes the film feel more like drama than a documentary. Eventually, though the film’s length and repetitiousness undermine that sense of tight control. The central figure is charismatic Judy Hill, a singer, sex abuse survivor and recovering addict, trying to keep her neighbourhood bar open. A second strand follows two brothers, 14-year-old Ronaldo, and nine-year-old Titus and their mother’s efforts to keep them from harm. As community background, we share the activism of New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and preparations for the traditional Mardi Gras Indians processional parade. L.L.